Otoplasty (Ear Surgery)
Cosmetic ear surgery reshapes the ears of adults and children who feel self-conscious about their size or shape. Otoplasty (ear pinning) reduces the prominence of the protruding ears by setting them closer to the head in a way that looks natural. Our plastic surgeons also perform reconstructive ear surgery for patients with congenitally misshaped ears or those who have been treated for skin cancer.
A Modern Approach
Ears are a feature that most people don’t really think about. But ears that draw attention tend to make people self-conscious. Ear pinning and other cosmetic ear surgery is common for children after they turn 4 because their ears have typically finished developing but the cartilage remains pliable. Children and adolescents with protruding or misshaped ears are also more likely to be the targets of ridicule among peers.
Surgical techniques vary depending on the amount of correction required. Small incisions in the cartilage as well as sutures allow the surgeon to rearrange, remove, or recontour tissue and reposition the ear closer to the head. The 2 primary options are:
- Cartilage scoring: Small incisions in the cartilage at the back of the upper ear allows your surgeon to rearrange, remove, or add tissue and reposition the ear closer to the head.
- Cartilage sparing: Sometimes referred to as “incisionless otoplasty,” this technique uses stitches and sutures to change the ear’s position and shape.
General anesthesia is usually recommended for younger patients during otoplasty and local anesthetic with sedation for older adolescents and adults. Patients return home after the outpatient procedure.
Reconstructive Ear Surgery
Our surgeons also perform ear surgery to correct the appearance of ears misshapen at birth or because of injury or disease. Common congenital conditions that can be changed with ear surgery include:
- Lop ear: the top of the ear is folded down
- Cup ear: a protruding ear with the top folded down and cup-shaped
- Shell ear: curved outer rim and missing folds and creases
Our surgeons can use reconstructive techniques to repair injured ears and ears altered by surgery to remove skin cancer.
Younger children recovering after otoplasty require close attention to ensure they don’t remove bandages or engage in physical play that may compromise the results. Most children need to avoid normal outdoor activities for at least a week after surgery.
All patients return home with a thick bandage wrapped around their heads to help maintain the ears’ new position. That’s usually replaced with lighter bandages a few days later. Older adolescents and adults can usually return to school or work 3 days after the procedure, although experiences vary.
Otoplasty provides lasting changes the shape or size of the ears, and most patients are extremely satisfied with their results. We encourage patients or the parents of younger patients to contact us with any questions during the recovery process.